The Pencil Today:


“It’s much harder to be a liberal than a conservative. Why? Because it’s easier to give someone the finger than a helping hand.” — Mike Royko


Death Panels. Sharks. Tom and Katie’s divorce.

These are merely three of the most-followed stories of the last couple of years, brought to you by a fantastically wired, ultra hi-tech, 24-hour-a-day news media. We have the potential to be the most informed society in the history of the human race.

And we are — at least when it comes to things like death panels, sharks, and Tom and Katie’s divorce.

I don’t believe in conspiracies and secret cabals who force legislation and information upon us to satisfy their nefarious ends.

Nope. I believe we get precisely what we want.

And we want death panels, sharks, and Tom and Katie’s divorce.

To wit: runs a little list of headlines on the upper right of their site. They call it “This Just In.” Clearly, the editors believe this is what you and I want to know about right now. Today at 7:00am, for example, there were 24 headlines in the list.

In a world of seven billion souls, there must be enough news to fill hundreds or even thousands of such lists. War. Plague. Revolution. Disease. Floods. Scientific advances. Innovative cures. Spectacular achievements.

Man, I don’t know how’s editors do it. But they do and here’s how they did it today:

  • Heiress found dead; husband arrested
  • Denise Rich renounces US citizenship

Denise Rich Doesn’t Want To Be One Of Us Anymore

  • Police: Mom dumps disabled daughter
  • She sneaks off to get contraception
  • Japan’s rare baby panda dies
  • Wild raccoons attack dog-walker

Take Cover!

  • Odor diverts flight, sickens plane crew
  • Usher’s former stepson seriously hurt
  • Sexual predators on cruise ships?
  • He lost 200 lbs. to join the Army
  • Woodchuck steals cemetery flag

So, of the two dozen most important up-to-the-minute developments in the endeavors of the species Homo Sapiens sapiens, fully eleven of them — or 46 percent –are blather.

You want it? You got it.


Let’s stay on a roll. Consider some of the biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs penned about celebrities of late.

Keep in mind that writers had to be hired and trees felled so that these literary gems could come into being. Fleets of trucks and ships were chartered to transport these weighty tomes to the racks of your fave Walmart.

Millions — nay, billions — of dollars, euros, pesos, yuans etc. were spent so that our brothers and sisters around the world might know the truths contained within these books.

And now, the list:

  • “Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time” by Valerie Bertinelli
  • “Wake Up, I’m Fat!” by Camryn Manheim

  • “Goldie” A Lotus Grows in the Mud” by Goldie Hawn
  • “Chyna: If Only They Knew” by Chyna and Michael Angeli
  • “Up Till Now” by William Shatner and David Fisher
  • “On the Couch” by Lorraine Bracco
  • “Pam: The Life Loves of Pamela Anderson” by the National Enquirer
  • “Kenny & Julia Loggins’ Recipe for Lasting Love (and Summer Salad)” by Suzanne Gerber

BTW: They’re Now Divorced

  • “By All Means Keep on Moving” by Marilu Henner
  • “There and Back Again: An Actor’s Tale” by Sean Astin and Joe Layden
  • “The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen” by Frank DeCaro
  • “Johnny Depp: The Illustrated Biography” by Nick Johnstone
  • “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir” by Steven Tyler
  • “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell” by Marilyn Manson
  • “How I Got This Way” by Regis Philbin


  • “Wrestling the Hulk: My Life Against the Ropes” by Linda Hogan
  • “Never Say Never: Finding a Life That Fits” by Ricki Lake
  • “No Regrets” by Ace Frehley
  • “Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss” by Peter Criss and Larry Sloman
  • “Gene Simmons: A Rock ‘Roll Journey in the Shadow of the Holocaust” by Ross Berg
  • “The Eric Carr Story” by Greg Prato

Literary Lions

And what better way to conclude this august list than with four — count ’em, four! — bios of all the members of Kiss.

Happy reading!

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

◗ IU Dowling International CenterEnglish Conversation Club, for non-native speakers of American English; 1pm

◗ IU Musical Arts Center Lawn — Summer Music Series: band concert with David C. Woodley & Stephen W. Pratt, conductors (if rain, concert will be moved indoors); 7pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

The Comedy AtticBloomington Comedy Festival; 8pm

Boys & Girls Club of BloomingtonContra dancing; 8-10:30pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Music Series: Festival Chamber Players, works by Moszkowski, Turina, and Brahms; 8pm

The BishopVonVolsung Sisters; 9pm

The VonVolsung Sisters

The BluebirdAlmost Famous; 9pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryOpen house, public viewing through the main telescope; 10pm

Uncle Elizabeth’sBoys on Poles, male exotic dancers; 10pm & midnight


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

3 thoughts on “The Pencil Today:

  1. Susan Sandberg says:

    Speaking of the dearth of solid, hard-hitting news, are any Pencillistas out there watching the new HBO series, The Newsroom? With a rapid fire script by Sorkin (The West Wing) and fine acting by Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterson, Jane Fonda, they’ve got me hooked. Damn if fiction isn’t better than real life these days!

  2. John Bergman says:

    Wellllllllll…here’s hoping the hack writers are just turning “a few tricks” with these celebrity books to keep bread on the table for their families while they write something REALLY important. Which is probably a ridiculous thought, but I’m trying to be generous and optimistic today. Wonder how much they get for that dreck? And how many of them put their real names on the cover?

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